It's a Blue Devils World...
...and we’re just living in it.
The scope of the Lewiston High School Blue Devils never ceases to amaze me. Over the course of the last several days, the soccer team and its community have been everywhere, a delight to behold.
Last Saturday, of course, the soccer team won another championship title, beating Gorham on a rather dismal, wet, gray day in an exciting game that ended with a multi-player relay – Derek, Jama, Bilal, Suab – that put the ball in the net in spectacular fashion for a 1-0 victory. The fourth time that the Blue Devils had been in the state final in five years, it was their third win, and their second in a row. I wanted to call it a “three-peat,” not a back-2-back, despite the fact that Camden Hills had interrupted the championship streak with a win over Lewiston in the quarters in 2016, but luckily Swarthmore head soccer coach and LHS soccer alum Eric Wagner reined me in.
The very next evening, MAHPERD (Maine Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance) honored Dan Gish, assistant soccer coach and physical education teacher at Lewiston High School, as its teacher of the year. Sitting next to Lewiston Athletic Director Jason Fuller at the dinner, it was a joy to watch Dan be honored by his colleagues from around the entire state, including Lewiston’s Kayla McGee and Tim Farrar, and Geiger Elementary’s beloved principal (and proud award-winner spouse) Cindy Gish. Sitting next to Jason at the dinner, it was great to catch up and hear about how the first full season of sports went on the brand new fields of Lewiston’s spectacular new athletic complex. The complex will serve this community -- and the entire state, really -- for generations to come.
I then was thrilled to give the keynote at MAHPERD, to talk about the many ways we make meaning out of sports, including, of course, Blue Devils soccer. And who should show up at the keynote address? None other than Coach Mike McGraw himself. To say I was stunned that he made the trip would be an understatement. After a bear hug and a smile, it was a beautiful thing to have him in the front row right next to Gish, who introduced me with words that ensured I started my own remarks a bit choked up.
But the weekend's bounty didn’t end there. The Lewiston boys U13 and U14 teams won their own soccer championships. And USA Today announced that the Blue Devils had re-entered the national rankings – 15th – with its title win.
And then last night, as the excitement seemed to be settling down, the great Abdi H. took to the field in Durham, New Hampshire, as his team, the UMASS Lowell Riverhawks, squared off against the UNH Wildcats in the America East semifinal. While the Riverhawks went down 2-0, ending their season, they outshot New Hampshire 8-2, with a second half full of opportunities that frustratingly never quite panned out.
But what a season for Abdi H., who has lit up the field this season with his powerful team, and has next year to look forward to. Because that’s what Blue Devils do: they keep moving forward and making it matter wherever they go. Which is everywhere.